Thrush Green adapted by Ron Perry from Miss Read
This Play is the copyright of the Author and must NOT be Performed without the Author's PRIOR consent
Act 1, Scene 1
The Village Green, Thrush Green. Early morning
MUSIC: A Lad and a Lass by Fiona Bennett
Winnie Bailey, an elegant woman in her early sixties, commences her
The sounds of the early spring morning in the country underpin Winnie’s
speech. Cows, dogs, cockerels ...
Winnie (addressing the audience directly) Welcome to Thrush Green
on the first of May 1960. It is a glorious day, even this early in the
morning! There is excitement in the air! Today is the day of the annual
visit to Thrush Green of Mrs Curdle’s Fair.
I came to live at Thrush Green more than forty years ago as the young
wife of the village doctor, Donald Bailey.
The green is triangular; St Andrew’s Church stands at the southerly
point. The road from Lulling runs along one side of the green. Lulling is
our neighbouring town, some half-mile down the hill. On the road to
Lulling are five sturdy Cotswold stone houses, standing well back in
leafy gardens. The tallest one is the home I share with Donald.
I am not the only one up and about early this morning.
The great Mrs Curdle is also astir; she has been awake for more than an
hour. Mrs Curdle rules over her modest travelling fair and her family with
matriarchal severity. Instant obedience is demanded and given. Some
may think her overbearing, but Mrs Curdle is scrupulously just and
warm-hearted. She has many friends, and Donald and I are proud to
count ourselves among them.
St Andrew’s clock strikes seven
Cut to Mrs Curdle by her caravan
Mrs Curdle is in her seventies, a fine-looking woman with a strong brown
face, weather-beaten, and wearing gold drop earrings
She is sitting outside her caravan putting the finishing touches to a large
bunch of flowers made from wood-shavings
Mrs Curdle Today is one of me bad days.
She sits breathing heavily, a pain in her back and stomach tormenting
Mrs Curdle Dear, oh dear! And only a morsel of fried liver and onions
for me supper! Never touched the cheese and never wetted me lips with
nothin’ stronger than tea all yesterday. An’ there’s no doubt about it – I
shall have to turn it all in, turn it all in!
Fade on Mrs Curdle
Cut to the Baileys’ house. Breakfast-time
Act 1, Scene 2
Dr Bailey, frail, in his dressing-gown
Dr Bailey It doesn’t seem possible, May the first without Mrs Curdle on
Thrush Green. Why, the whole idea’s absurd! It just isn’t May the first
without Mrs Curdle!
Winnie Why do you say that, Donald?
Dr Bailey Young Dr Lovell heard from old Piggott that the Fair is to be
Winnie Mrs Curdle is selling the Fair, after all these years? How does
Albert know, or think he knows?
Dr Bailey It’s been talked about in the public bar of The Two
Winnie More coffee, Donald?
Donald Yes, please, my dear.
Winnie refills his cup and her own with coffee and milk. Comfortable
Winnie Donald, you should know better than to repeat idle gossip,
especially gossip fuelled by beer!
Dr Bailey It’s gossip abroad in Thrush Green, and Lulling, too. We shall
miss those flowers! Those flowers! A bigger and brighter bunch each
year, it seems. A work of art!
Winnie Indeed, works of art and they last forever!
Dr Bailey Do you realise, my dear, that we’ve had a bunch of Mrs
Curdle’s hand-made flowers every year since 1915?
Winnie Yes, I do, Donald. Forty-odd years with the top shelf of the
pantry occupied, and then having to remember to unearth them ready for
her annual inspection. Really, I shan’t know myself.
Dr Bailey I don’t like the idea. May the first without Curdle’s Fair on
Thrush Green, and to think of her caravan drawn up in some field
forever. Mrs Curdle’s too game to let that happen. Surely she’d never let
that happen, would she?
Dr Bailey sits still, lost in thought, far away
Fade on Baileys’ house
Winnie moves away from the doctor
Winnie (glancing at the doctor) I knew that Donald was reliving that
distant day when he and Mrs Curdle had first met on such a May morning.
Cut back to Baileys’ house. Dr and Mrs Bailey at the table. Dr Bailey has
removed his dressing-gown, and is now wearing day clothes
Very loud knocking on door and Mr Curdle shouting in panic
Mr Curdle Doctor, Doctor, come quick, come quick! Please, please help
Dr Bailey Who is it, whatever is the matter?
Mr Curdle It’s Curdle, sir, from the Fair across the green. It’s me
missus. It’s on the way afore time. Ain’t never seen her this way afore, sir!
Dr Bailey I’ll come. (Collects his bag)
The two men walk towards the Curdle caravan
Fade on Baileys’ house, cut to the Curdle caravan
[End of Extract]